James Mahan dressed in a suit and tie sitting in City Hall

Mount Vernon First Ward City Councilman James Mahan

MOUNT VERNON — City council members agreed they want further discussion before moving forward with possible food truck legislation.

If, in fact, they do move forward.

Council discussed the topic for the third time at Monday’s council meeting.

Councilman Mel Severns said there is validity to bringing people to the table to discuss it.

“But competition is good, right? Food trucks keeps traffic off of the road … at Jeld Wen or Ariel. They do help minimize some of the traffic,” he said. “They do provide resources for people to get food in Mount Vernon, so I’m not really in favor of a lot of restrictions. And definitely not without bringing people to the table to discuss it.”

Councilman James Mahan said he appreciates the innovation and service food trucks bring.

“We’ve talked about if they’re on private property, then that’s the property owner’s responsibility to decide if they want the food truck on their property or not,” he said. “Unless there’s something I haven’t seen yet, then I’m not generally in favor of more restrictions than we have.”

Councilman Mike Hillier said that according to Fire Prevention Officer Terry Davis, the fire department inspects each food truck that it knows about. If it does not know about it, it does not get inspected.

Hillier favors some type of regulation.

“If someone knocks on your door, they have to have a permit. If somebody wants to sell you insurance, they have to have a permit,” he said. “We’re letting the food truck vendors do whatever they want.”

Mayor Matt Starr said enforcement is always the difficult part.

“It always comes down to why create something if you can’t enforce it,” he said.

He noted that Ann Weisent-Page, who organizes food truck vendors for special events, is sensitive to the concerns of brick-and-mortar restaurant owners who are paying taxes and other expenses to operate.

He also said Weisent-Page feels any regulations should apply to all mobile businesses, not just food trucks.

Council members agreed a group should convene after Thanksgiving to discuss it further. The group will include restaurant owners, food vendors, and city and fire officials.

Property donation

Council gave a second reading to legislation accepting donated property on Prospect Street.

The Kline development was plotted in 1999. Two lots have a large spring on them, so there is water continuously running off the property and onto other properties.

“If we don’t do the maintenance or have a way onto the property to maintain it, then the water goes onto other people’s property and runs downhill,” City Engineer Brian Ball explained.

The Kline Trust wants to donate the properties to the city. The stormwater utility would own them; the city would maintain them.

The lots are not appropriate to build on. However, Ball said building would present the worst-case scenario.

“If someone builds on it and diverts the spring onto someone else’s property or away from the collector drain, other houses could be damaged,” he said. “It would be very easy to divert either intentionally or unintentionally.”

Law Director Rob Broeren said the city possessing the lots and maintaining the drainage avoids a lot of problems for other people.

Councilwoman Janis Seavolt agreed.

“If we can take control of the stormwater, and we don’t have any issues … I think it’s probably a good thing,” she said.

Council member Tammy Woods said the city should not maintain it if it is on private property.

Planning and zoning

Council also gave a second reading to an ordinance rezoning 34 acres on Upper Gilchrist Way. The property is formally known as Casey’s Way.

The request is to rezone the parcel from R-1 single-family housing to PND (planned neighborhood district). Lemmon Development is in contract to buy the land.

Patrick Mackie of Lemmon Development outlined plans for a 156-unit PND. The development is targeted to age 55+.

Plans call for one-story units, either one- or two-bedroom. The roads will be private; utilities will be public.

Engineer Ball said that if the developer wants to potentially turn the roads over to the city in the future, the roads must be built to city standards. If the developer does not build them according to city standards, the city will refuse to accept them.

Council will hold a public hearing on the rezoning on Monday, Nov. 27.

Other action

Council members also took the following actions:

•Gave a second reading to legislation amending the way the city posts public notices

related reading

•Gave a second reading to legislation extending the Coshocton Avenue tax increment financing district another 30 years

•Waived the three readings and approved supplemental appropriations and disposing of old fire hoses and nozzles

•Gave first readings to legislation accepting the annexation of 4 acres owned by the historical society and amending the city’s lodging tax distribution formula

In public participation, Greg Culbertson provided details on the Owl Creek Development Company.

A Christian ultrarunner who likes coffee and quilting